Archive for the ‘Rhubarb’ Category

Asparagus Croque Monsieur

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

grassweb

Asparagus is still sticking up happy stalks at local farm stands, which makes me ecstatic. I try to eat it every day, if only in a salad. I know it will go away all too soon.

Naturally, I wanted to use it for my appearance last week on Mass Appeal. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it—and then suddenly I had a vision of asparagus in the middle of a Croque Monsieur.

I have always adored this French version of a grilled-cheese-and-ham sandwich. It’s my favorite thing to order in Parisian cafés—or it WAS in the days when I frequented those establishments. (Someday I hope to get back to Paris. It has been several decades, hélas.)

Here’s how I made the sandwiches last week. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure the sandwich needs the béchamel (white) sauce. It would be pretty good with just a little extra cheese. But then, when does one ever NEED béchamel? It does make the sandwich just a bit more decadent and French, however.

As I said on the air, a Tinky could conceive of grilled cheese with asparagus. It takes a French person to think of throwing béchamel on top. I have to admit that a French person might have been a bit more sparing than we were in the video below.

My television appearance on Thursday coincided with National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day. Local strawberries are just coming in so I happily made a strawberry-rhubarb crumble. If you’d like to make that, just use my friend Ginny’s rhubarb crumble recipe. Substitute strawberry slices for half of the rhubarb and omit the cinnamon. (I also like to substitute oats for part of the flour.)

P.S. You’ll note from the crumble video that I have now adopted the soubriquet “The Diva of Deliciousness.” This was suggested by Craig Hamilton, a delightful chef on the Jersey Shore. What do you think of the new name?

Asparagus does excited me!

Asparagus does excite me!

Croque Monsieur aux Asperges

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sweet butter plus butter as needed for browning bread
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup warmed milk
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 pinch salt
4 slices of good bread (I used King Arthur Flour’s pain de mie recipe.)
Dijon mustard to taste
2 slices of ham
4 thin slices Gruyère
4 pieces of cooked asparagus, cut to fit the bread
1/4 cup shredded Gruyère

Instructions:

In a saucepan over low heat melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour, and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk. Cook and whisk until the sauce thickens a bit, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, and stir in the paprika and salt. Set aside.

Begin assembling your sandwiches. Spread the slices of bread lightly with mustard. Top two of the slices with a slice of cheese, ham, asparagus, and another slice of cheese. Place the other slices of bread on top to make two full sandwiches.

In a frying pan melt a small amount of butter. Pop the sandwiches into the pan and lightly brown them, adding a little more butter if needed.

Put the sandwiches on a baking sheet. Top them with some of the sauce (you don’t have to use it all; I just like to make sure I’ll have enough!) and the shredded cheese. Broil them until they turn golden brown and bubbly.

Serves 2 decadently.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU9esxHVKME[/embedyt]

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-TRFqsio[/embedyt]

Asparagus Quiche

Friday, May 20th, 2016
It looks as though we're in the midst of a Shakespearean tragedy—but we’re actually discussing diets.

It may look as though we’re in the midst of a Shakespearean tragedy. Actually, we’re discussing diets.

After a wet couple of weeks we finally have enough sun to bring asparagus up in our area. I eat grocery-store asparagus in the winter from time to time. But I CAN’T STOP EATING farm-stand asparagus in the spring. To me the flavor of asparagus embodies this green, lush, delicious season.

I tend to eat asparagus plain, but as the many asparagus recipes in these pages attest I do also put it into other dishes. Yesterday on Mass Appeal Seth Stutman and I put it into a quiche I have served several times already this spring—first with sautéed dandelion greens, then with sautéed spinach, and now with asparagus.

I based it on the idea of a spinach salad so I wanted to add red onion and plenty of cheese. One could of course add a bit of cooked bacon as well—particularly in the spinach or dandelion versions. I’m not sure the asparagus version needed the bacon; it has plenty of flavor the way it is. In fact, another time I might try a milder cheese to let the asparagus flavor dominate more. I’m happy with the recipe as is, however. (I just like to tinker!)

Seth and I also made rhubarb bread. That recipe was adapted from Land O Lakes. If you want to try my version, add 1 tablespoon orange zest to the batter and double the streusel. And if you’d like to use three little pans as I did, bake the bread for less time than the recipe suggests. The mini-breads took 45 minutes in my oven, but when in doubt use that toothpick!

You’ll note from the rhubarb video below that I forgot to add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I also FORGOT TO ADD THE CHOPPED RHUBARB!

I’m sure all TV stars have days like yesterday. At any rate, I hope they do.

I stirred the missing ingredients into the batter in the pans before baking the bread and threw a little more brown sugar on top for color. The end result was delicious; the recipe is very forgiving.

quicheweb

My Quiche

Ingredients:

1 red onion, peeled and sliced
2 splashes of extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
2 pinches salt (divided)
3 cloves of garlic, slivered
1 large bunch asparagus, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces and blanched for 1 minute (about 2 cups of pieces)
4 eggs
1 cup cream
5 to 6 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 9-inch pie shell

Instructions:

Sauté the onion pieces in a little oil until they caramelize (ideally, half an hour or more, but you can get away with 15 minutes if you have to). Sprinkle on a little salt, and remove them from the sauté pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Splash a little more oil into the pan, and sauté the garlic briefly (3 to 4 minutes) to soften it. Toss in the asparagus pieces, and sauté them just until they are warm.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs, the cream, and a pinch of salt.

Sprinkle two thirds of the cheese over the pie crust. Top the cheese with the onion, asparagus, and garlic pieces; then pour on the cream/egg custard, and top with the remaining cheese.

Place the quiche on a rimmed cookie sheet to prevent spillage, and bake it for about 40 minutes, until the custard is set and the top is golden. Serves 4 to 6, depending on appetite.

And now the videos….

[youtube]https://youtu.be/WLc_4fVmIu8[/youtube]

[youtube]https://youtu.be/qjw-slYXADc[/youtube]

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Strawberry Season

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Tinkyin red web

I adore strawberries—in part because of their lovely, sweet color and juiciness and in part because (at least where I live in western Massachusetts) they ripen just as the earth does. Their arrival in local fields and farmstands coincides almost exactly with the arrival of summer.

I haven’t picked strawberries in several years. Living by myself as I currently do, I don’t need the large quantities with which one comes home after picking. I know I could make jam and freeze or dry the darn things. Somehow I’m short sighted enough to want to enjoy a few at a time while they’re ripe and not worry about putting them by too much. (I have made a little jam this year; old habits are hard to break.)

This week on Mass Appeal I HAD to use strawberries. I made one savory recipe and one sweet. (Technically, the savory recipe was sweet as well; it actually included more sugar than the sweet. Because it was a little spicy and because it’s not a dessert I think of it as savory.)

The savory recipe was strawberry chipotle sauce. This jam-like substance is wonderful as an appetizer on crackers with cream cheese, although it could also be used as a cooking sauce or condiment with chicken or pork.

The sweet recipe was my “once a year day” special. I generally consume a pretty balanced diet; I love my vegetables. Once a year, however, I like to have ONLY strawberry shortcake for supper. Shortcake is filling, and I can lose my hunger for it if I eat a real meal. If shortcake IS the meal, however, I can enjoy it with gusto. And eating it once at year can’t hurt me.

The shortcake recipe I posted before on this blog made one giant shortcake. I find it easier in general to make smaller shortcakes so I can serve as many people as I want (sometimes just Tinky!) and then give away or freeze the remaining cakes.

The shortcake recipe here comes from King Arthur Flour, and it couldn’t be easier. To make it more festive, I include a bit of stewed rhubarb along with the strawberries. We still have a bit of rhubarb here in the hilltowns, although it’s getting ready to leave us.

King Arthur Flour also provided the self-rising flour, the nice new sharp biscuit cutters, and the sparkling sugar for the top of the cakes.

I hope you enjoy the recipes … and the season … as much as I do.

strawberry chipotle sauce web

Strawberry Chipotle Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups strawberry slices
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1 to 2 canned chipotles in adobo sauce (plus a little of the sauce)
1 dab butter

Instructions:

In a nonreactive pot combine the fruit, a cup of the sugar, and the lemon juice. Let the mixture sit for an hour or so to allow the berries to juice up.

Cook the fruit over low heat until tender. Add the remaining sugar, the salt, the chipotle, and the butter, and cook rapidly until thick, stirring frequently. Remove any foam you see (there shouldn’t be too much, thanks to the butter).

If you want jam, it will be ready when it sheets off a cold, stainless-steel spoon.

If you don’t cook it that long, your sauce will just be a bit more liquid. (I like it slightly more liquid so I measure the sauce with an instant-read thermometer and turn off the heat when the thermometer reads 217 or 218 degrees.)

Let the sauce cool for a few minutes; then pulverize it with a blender or immersion blender.

Refrigerate the sauce after it cools. Makes about 2 cups.

shortcakeweb

Strawberry-Rhubarb Shortcake

Ingredients:

for the filling:

3 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
the juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cups chopped strawberries (lightly sweetened if you like them juicy)

for the self-rising biscuits:

2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
a small amount of melted butter (optional)
coarse white sugar (optional)

for assembly:

sweetened whipped cream

Instructions:

A couple of hours before you want to begin working start the filling by sprinkling the sugar over the rhubarb. Stir in the lemon juice, and allow the rhubarb to juice up.

After an hour has passed prepare your filling. (You may also prepare the rhubarb portion of the filling in advance.) Bring the rhubarb mixture to a boil; reduce the heat; and cook, stirring, until the rhubarb becomes thick (about 5 to 7 minutes).

Allow the rhubarb to cool. While it is cooling you may begin making your shortcake biscuits. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together the flour and sugar. In a separate bowl (or a measuring cup!) combine the cream and the vanilla.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the cream mixture into the well, and gently stir until the mixture is combined, adding a little milk as needed to incorporate all the ingredients into the liquid.

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface, and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Fold the dough over several times; then pat it into a circle or rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick.

Using a sharp biscuit cutter cut the dough into rounds, about 2 to 2-1/4 inches wide (or however wide you want them!). Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet (you may line the sheet with parchment or silicone if you’re paranoid about sticking). If you like, brush the tops of your biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle a little coarse sugar on top.

Bake the biscuits until they are golden brown (12 to 16 minutes).

When you are ready to assemble your shortcakes, cut the biscuits in half horizontally. Decorate the bottom halves with the cooked filling followed by the strawberries; then dollop on whipped cream. Top with the biscuit tops. (Or divide each shortcake into two mini-shortcakes, one strawberry and one rhubarb, as shown in the photo above.)

Serves 8 to 10, depending on the size of your biscuits.

And now the video.…

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWPnpFSXQj0[/youtube]

I Love Rhubarb THIS MUCH!

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

thismuchweb

Readers, you know I adore rhubarb. It’s tangy, it’s versatile, it’s colorful, and (at least in my corner of New England, thanks to generous neighbors) it’s free.

As Judy Garland, Ethel Merman, and even I have queried in song, “Who could ask for anything more?”

Yesterday I returned to the TV program Mass Appeal to stir up a little rhubarb happiness. Seth Stutman and I made two dishes. The first (one does sometimes make dessert first) was a dump cake.

The recipe came from my friend Vicky, who reported that her kids love it. I don’t blame them. It’s a variant on a crisp or cobbler and takes only minutes to throw together. Dump cakes are one-pan desserts, often involving (as in this case) cake mixes.

I’m not a big fan of cake mixes, and I HAVE made this recipe with “scratch” ingredients. If you’d like to eschew the mix, just substitute 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1-1/2 cups sugar for the cake mix; finish using 1 cup milk instead of water and add a little vanilla along with the milk.

The problem with that method is that it requires you to mix the dry ingredients together. In that case, you don’t really have a dump cake. If you’re a non-mix purist, however, you may not mind.

One solution to the mix dilemma is to use a high-quality mix like King Arthur Flour’s golden vanilla mix. I tried to get some of this—but the mix didn’t arrive in time for my TV spot!

Here is the recipe as we made it on the air. (Note that I did NOT use the strawberry gelatin, which I find excessive, although you can see it oozing in the photo here.)

dumpcakeweb

Rhubarb Dump Cake

Ingredients:

4 cups chopped rhubarb (a little over a pound, enough to fill your pan in a single layer)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry gelatin (optional)
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup water (or milk, according to cake-mix directions)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted (I tend to be a little generous with this—maybe 5/8 stick?)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the rhubarb evenly in the bottom of the baking dish.

Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb, followed by the cinnamon, the gelatin (if you are using it), and finally the cake mix. Pour the water and melted butter over the top. Do not stir. Bake for 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender.

Serve this treat by itself or with whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.

making salsaweb

Seth and I also made a quick rhubarb salsa. This recipe differs from the one I have previously posted in that it is less sweet and less wet. It’s still delicious.

Rhubarb Salsa

Ingredients:

2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
1/2 inch ginger root, peeled and chopped finely
3 to 4 tablespoons minced sweet onion (e.g., red onion or Vidalia)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 handful cilantro, chopped
the juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime
2 teaspoons honey
salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)

Instructions:

Place the rhubarb and ginger in a stainless-steel sieve or colander. Place them in a pot of boiling water. Leave them in until the rhubarb begins to soften (about 1 minute; you don’t want it super crunchy, but you don’t want mush, either).

Remove the rhubarb mixture from the boiling water, still in the sieve, and pour cold water over it briefly to stop it from cooking longer. Drain again. Let the rhubarb sit in the sieve with a couple of ice cubes to keep the cooling process going.

In a bowl combine the onion, the garlic, the peppers, and the cilantro.

In a small bowl combine the citrus juice and the honey. Stir in the salt. Add the drained rhubarb mixture (make sure to take out any remaining ice). Mix well.

Refrigerate the salsa for at least an hour before serving. Serve with chips or crackers and cream cheese, or with chicken, pork, or fish. Makes about 2 cups.

Rhubarb Salsa for Michelleweb

If you’d like to watch the video (in which I refer to another Rhubarb in my life and deliberate marrying a TV star), it appears below.

You’ll note that Seth and I refer several times to slime and sliming. His co-star Ashley Kohl was broadcasting that day from a local children’s hospital. For “Slime Day 2015” Ashley and several doctors and nurses were doused with a bright green liquid to entertain the children.

Ashley is gorgeous. Darn her, she even looked good with slime all over her! I still love her, however, and so did the kids.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/7PM5828ec7o[/youtube]

Florette’s Rhubarb Tea

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

teaweb

This recipe appears in my Pudding Hollow Cookbook. (If you don’t have the book, feel free to order it!)

I had forgotten about the tea until last week when I was pondering what to prepare on my next segment on the show Mass Appeal. It was a hit with friends when I made it a few days ago—and it was a hit yesterday when I made it on the show. (See video below.) It is lovely to look at and refreshing to drink.

In case you skip over the recipe and go straight to the video, be aware that I made rhubarb crumble first! And … you should know that I forgot to mention on the air that one should cover the raw rhubarb with water BEFORE cooking it for the tea; otherwise the rhubarb will burn long before it simmers! (One does get a little carried away on live TV, but one is learning.)

The recipe originally came from my neighbor Florette, who is mentioned in the video. I have written here before about Florette. She was glamorous, eccentric, and occasionally maddening. She taught me a lot about rhubarb and a lot about life, and I’m grateful for those lessons.

The Tea

Ingredients:

for the rhubarb juice:

2 pounds rhubarb stalks chopped (about 6 cups)
3 cups water
1 pinch salt

for the sugar syrup:
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar

for assembly:
1 quart strong black tea

Instructions:

In a stainless steel or enamel saucepan, cook the rhubarb in water, partially covered, over moderately low heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. Stir gently occasionally to keep from boiling. Cool slightly. Drain the rhubarb in a sieve placed over a bowl and discard the pulp, reserving the liquid. Add the salt.

In another saucepan, combine the ingredients for the sugar syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring and brushing the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan until the sugar is dissolved. Cook the syrup for 5 minutes, undisturbed, over moderate heat and let it cool.

To make rhubarb tea, combine 2 parts black tea, 1 part rhubarb juice, and 1 part sugar syrup. (You may change these proportions slightly according to your taste.) Serve in a tall glass over ice. As indicated, 4 cups tea, 2 cups rhubarb juice, and 2 cups sugar syrup make 2 quarts of rhubarb tea.

Store any leftover juice or syrup in the refrigerator. If you need a double amount of sugar syrup, make 2 separate batches.

And now the video:

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn951O2e5yc&list=UUhrpfuBCFEPoURYVpsi4iHw[/youtube]

If you’d like to see the quick asparagus dish I made yesterday before the rhubarb (one always eats one’s vegetables BEFORE dessert), here’s that video as well:

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNC_nZJ-_lk&list=UUhrpfuBCFEPoURYVpsi4iHw[/youtube]